A street lighting control system, to “leave the room on or off”

Turn off or leave on? The issue of street lighting at night is becoming a headache for many communities looking to save on energy bills this fall.

According to Ademe, public lighting accounts for 41% of the municipalities’ electricity consumption, and the 11 million light points that make up the public lighting fleet in France, represent more than 10% of the total national electricity consumption. In addition to light pollution from the sky, night lighting also represents a challenge for the preservation of biodiversity, as it is one of the main sources of insect disappearance.

Artificial intelligence

Created three years ago, and so far in an experimental phase, the Bordeaux start-up NRGY Box, incubated by Unitech in the digital city of Bègles, has just raised 500,000 euros and will recruit ten people to industrialize its process and market it in a large scale.

The company has developed a process that combines an electronic module with an artificial intelligence module to regulate street lighting. “In concrete terms, explains the company’s co-founder Rémi Kupisz, it works with an IoT module (Internet of Things) associated with a low-speed network that we install at the foot of the pole, and which will allow us to control it remotely so that it can run security programs. lighting: we can thus turn on, off or regulate public lighting. We then have a second module that determines the lighting program thanks to a predictive analysis of population flows, based on information collected from mobile operators. »

The community can thus set a savings goal for the start-up to achieve, “and accordingly we program the lights to impact as many people as possible when we turn them on, and conversely to ‘penalize’ the fewest possible people when we turn them on. off. “

A solution that adapts to the constraints of the city

Currently, the start-up works with five communities in Nova Aquitaine. In Chateaubernard, in the suburbs of Cognac (Charente), where 92 light points were equipped in an activity zone, the community bill between April 2021 and May 2022 went from 9,318 euros to 2,329 euros, or 75% savings.

Mayor of Gradignan, on the outskirts of Bordeaux, Michel Labardin is also experimenting with the system in a neighborhood of his city. “We equipped all public lighting poles with a large area of ​​activity, where attendance drops sharply from 7pm to 8pm. We were able to isolate temporalities where lighting is not needed, and we only activate it at certain times and when there is movement. The result is interesting, mainly due to the not very expensive investment. Is it generalizable to the entire municipality? It’s less obvious, and for now we’ve reserved it for the business areas, where customer service is quite easy to analyze as it’s usually limited to office hours. »

Rémi Kupisz, in turn, defends a system that is intended to be very flexible in use. “It is obvious that a residential area will not function as a city centre, and our solution can precisely adapt to particular situations, for example by establishing ‘light paths’, i.e. leaving only the busiest streets in a neighborhood illuminated. , or just one point of light in three or four, to ensure safety. And at any time the community can take control to modify this setting. »

In some areas “the issue of turning off at night is more subtle”

The mayor of Gradignan remains convinced, in any case, that we must “get out of the cleavage inside or outside. “As far as possible, you have to turn it off, of course, but without forbidding yourself to look at certain areas where the issue is more subtle. I’m thinking of large complexes, student residences, where turning everything off at night can be difficult. In some neighborhoods, we are beginning to see phenomena of “self-censorship” in the matter of going out at night. This is an issue where education is needed and the consent of the inhabitants. »

Even though “several studies have shown that insecurity does not progress with the extinction of light, recognizes Rémi Kupisz, despite everything, when you are alone at night, and that everything is turned off, there remains a feeling of insecurity. That’s why the idea is to turn off at the best time, and not somewhat arbitrarily between 10pm and 5am. »

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